The Episcopal church has proposed slashing the "Faith Formation" request in its draft budget that is being circulated prior to the 2012 General Convention. One seminary dean comments,
"Youth, young adult, and formation ministries are slashed about 90%, from about $3 million to $286,000. No more EYE or national Episcopal youth events. No more children and youth ministries, and on and on..."
In a way, this might not be a bad thing as we have seen little good theology come out of the national headquarters of this organization. The declining numbers of Sunday worshippers and the falling numbers of youth in the Episcopal church is a testimony to the failure of previous spending efforts.
“Building the Continuum”The Episcopal Church Summit on FaithFormation Envisioning the Future of Faith Formation in the Episcopal Church (Version 1.0)
"From October 31-November 2, 2011, leaders from across a variety of ministry settings gathered to envision the future shape of faith formation in the Episcopal Church. Through a scenario planning process the leaders identified significant forces affecting faith formation, determined two critical uncertainties that will shape future directions, and created four scenarios or narratives to capture the possibilities for the future of faith formation. "
"...describe scenarios as “narratives of alternative environments in which today’s decisions may be played out. They are not predictions. Nor are they strategies. Instead they are more like hypotheses of different futures specifically designed to highlight the risks and opportunities involved in specific strategic issues...They are designed to stretch our thinking about emerging changes...”
" Perhaps most importantly, scenarios give us a new, shared language that deepens our conversations about the future and how we can help to shape it."
Ah yes, helping to shape the future. Let us read on to see if these are the people who should be doing the shaping.
And what about those two "Critical Uncertainties"?
"After careful study of the significant driving forces, two uncertainties were selected from the longer list of potential uncertainties (see above) that might shape the broader context of Episcopal faith formation over the next decade and longer. The two chosen uncertainties define a set of four scenarios for the future of faith formation in the Episcopal Church that are divergent, challenging, internally consistent, and plausible. Each of the two uncertainties is expressed as an axis that represents a continuum of possibilities ranging between two endpoints.
Uncertainty #1. The Relationship of Technology and Community
Will the continuing evolution of technology enhance human community and connection or will technology diminish community and connections among people?
Uncertainty #2. Response of the Episcopal Church to Changing Global Realities
Will the Episcopal Church’s response toward emerging global realities, such as increasing cultural diversity, economic uncertainty, and resource availability for all people, lead the Church toward an outward-focused engagement with the world or toward an inner-focused, separation from the world."
"Faith formation—in a variety of settings—leads the way in forming lifelong disciples and preparing people for engagement in mission in the world."
"In a technological world Episcopal faith formation is helping people develop new relational abilities and immersing them in a variety of human communities. It is also helping people rediscover creation and the natural world."
And the emphasis on "helping people develop new relational abilities" is another way of saying, "The Church is all about human relationship."
Maybe that's why they left God out of the conversation.
(A hypothetical conversation between Bishop Waldo and a simple pewsitter)